Tar Heels turn tide on Irish
North Carolina started the second half with an interception return for a touchdown and sealed the game with a last-second fumble recovery. In between, the Tar Heels did just enough to beat Notre Dame for the first time in a generation.
Cameron Sexton scored on a leaping 4-yard keeper to start the fourth quarter and Quan Sturdivant had the momentum-changing 32-yard interception return to help the No. 22 Tar Heels beat the Fighting Irish, 29-24, yesterday in Chapel Hill, N.C., providing another boost to coach Butch Davis's rebuilding effort.
The Tar Heels (5-1), off to their best start since going 8-0 in 1997, beat the Fighting Irish (4-2) for the first time since 1960.
Hakeem Nicks had nine catches for 141 yards and freshman walk-on Casey Barth kicked three field goals, helping North Carolina rally from an 11-point first-half deficit.
The Tar Heels' offense failed to reach the end zone in the first half while their defense struggled to slow Jimmy Clausen and the Notre Dame passing game. But their knack for forcing turnovers - four after halftime - was enough to help them hang on in a game that came down to a wild finish.
Notre Dame reached the UNC 7-yard line in the final seconds before officials ruled - after a review - that receiver Michael Floyd fumbled the ball in what appeared to be a frantic attempted lateral. Trimane Goddard recovered, and North Carolina took a knee with three seconds left.
Clausen threw for a career-best 383 yards and TDs to Golden Tate and Floyd that helped the Irish take a 17-9 halftime lead. Notre Dame finished with 472 yards, but couldn't overcome two interceptions and two lost fumbles in the second half.
Sexton, filling in for injured starter T.J. Yates, threw for 201 yards. But he made his biggest play with his feet, scrambling right on third down and jumping through a hit from Kyle McCarthy at the goal line for a 29-24 lead with 14:55 to play.
Georgia Tech 10, Gardner-Webb 7 - Derrick Morgan tipped a 43-yard field goal attempt by Gardner-Webb's Ryan Gates with three seconds left, helping the Yellow Jackets (5-1) squeak out an unexpectedly difficult win over their FCS opponent in Atlanta.
Miami 20, Central Florida 14 - Graig Cooper had a career-high 23 rushes for 90 yards, including the clinching touchdown after a muffed punt return late in the fourth, and the Hurricanes (3-3) pulled out a sloppy home win.
Virginia 35, East Carolina 20 - At Charlottesville, Va., Cedric Peerman ran for 173 yards and two long touchdowns, and the Cavaliers (3-3) turned back a second-half by the Pirates (3-3).